Following a drone and missile strike on the United Arab Emirates (UAE), US President Joe Biden is considering re-designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels as an “international terrorist organization.”
The declaration was made at a news conference on Wednesday, only days after the UAE ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, requested the Biden administration to reinstate the designation in the aftermath of an attack that killed three people in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
In order to enable the flow of humanitarian aid to Yemen, the US Department of State overturned a last-minute Trump administration decision that listed the Houthis as a “foreign terrorist group” and subjected it to sanctions.
Biden said that reinstating the designation was “under consideration,” but that ending the battle pitting the Houthis against Yemen’s internationally recognized government and a Saudi-led military coalition, which the UAE is a member of, would be “very difficult.”
In a tweet, the UAE Embassy in the US praised Biden’s remarks, accusing the Houthis of “launching ballistic and cruise missiles against civilian targets, sustaining aggression, and diverting aid to Yemeni people.”
In a call with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan on Wednesday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized the US’ “unwavering support for the security and defense of UAE territory against all threats,” according to the Pentagon.
Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy for Yemen, will go to the Gulf region this week to try to revive the peace process, the State Department announced on Wednesday.
Lenderking “will press the parties to de-escalate militarily and seize the new year to participate fully in an inclusive UN-led peace process”, it said in a statement, focusing on the “urgent need to mitigate the dire humanitarian and economic crises facing Yemenis”.